Dr. Hans Zinnecker is an astrophysicist who was
born and raised in Bavaria,
Germany. He was attracted to astronomy by his high-school
teacher who had attended several public lectures
by Prof. Kippenhahn on stellar evolution theory.
He studied at the Technical University Munich where
he first did a master's thesis in quantum field
theory in 1977. Then he changed to astrophysics
and, in 1981, he completed his PhD thesis on theoretical
models of star formation and the stellar Initial
Mass Function at the Max-Planck-Institut
für Extraterrestrische Physik in Garching.
Although a theorist at heart, he wanted to test
his star-formation theories and wanted to learn
how to do critical astronomical observations. He
won a Royal Society Fellowship and went to the Royal
Observatory Edinburgh as a postdoc (1983-1987) under
Malcolm Longair. This was the time of the emergence
of infrared arrays, and Edinburgh then was one of
the leading infrared astronomy centers in the world.
It was then he realized the potential to study embedded
young star clusters and their pre-main-sequence
luminosity function. Stimulated by the influence
of Eric Becklin (who was on sabbatical in Edinburgh)
he also got interested in the formation of massive
stars in dense protoclusters. These early efforts
eventually resulted in a much quoted review chapter
on the initial stellar population written jointly
by Zinnecker, McCaughrean, and Wilking (1993) in
the book ``Protostars and Planets III''.
In the early 90s, he spent brief periods (three
enjoyable months) as a lecturer at IfA in Honolulu/Hawaii
and as a senior visitor at ESO
in Chile. Among other things, these extended stays
led to some memorable discussions and collaborations
with George Herbig and Bo Reipurth, respectively.
As an added bonus, he got to know the Mauna Kea
and La Silla skies and telescopes fairly well.
Thereafter he joined the University of Würzburg
(the place where Röntgen discovered X-rays)
where he worked with Harold Yorke and his students,
mainly on X-ray selected samples of young stars
(ROSAT data) including their binary statistics.
At the same time, he got serious about binary star
formation, a subject which he originally started
already in Edinburgh. In the process of infrared
imaging of proto-binaries, he and his colleagues
Mark McCaughrean and John Rayner discovered the
most beautiful embedded protostellar molecular hydrogen
jet in the sky (HH 212 in Orion) at the IRTF.
In 1995, he joined the staff of the Astrophysical
Institute of Potsdam (AIP), where he became
the head of the star-formation group. At the same
time he became the institute's project scientist
for the Large
Binocular Telescope, in which Germany has a
In 1997, he became President of IAU Commission
26, dealing with binary and multiple stars. At the
end of his term, in April 2000, he organized and
co-chaired IAU Symposium No. 200 on ``The Formation
of Binary Stars'' in historic Potsdam.
When he is not doing astronomy (which is rare,
says his wife), Hans is still busy running around
at home and elsewhere, visiting his family (two
daughters in Bavaria) and his friends (all over
the world). In his younger years, Hans could often
be found playing soccer. Naturally, his favourite
team is Bayern
Munich: he was an amateur player there when
he was a student. Too old to play himself now, he
still loves watching soccer matches, both on TV
and live in the stadium, because their evolution
and outcome is highly non-linear and the details
are wonderfully unpredictable.